Dec 12, 2011 7:38 PM by Melissa Hawkes
State officials say a test for fourth- and eighth-graders that became a symbol of Louisiana's bid to improve public schools will be phased out.
The exam, which is called LEAP, will be scrubbed in three years because new tests will be launched in connection with a national drive to make public school courses more rigorous.
The Advocate reports that under current rules, fourth- and eighth-graders have to pass LEAP, and meet other standards, to move to the fifth and ninth grades.
Whether a similar rule will be in effect for passage when the new exams begin for the 2014-15 school year is up to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which sets policies for public school students statewide. LEAP stands for Louisiana Educational Assessment Program.
The changes will also spell the end of iLEAP, an annual skills test for third-, fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and ninth-graders, as well as end-of-course exams that high school students have to pass to earn a standard high school diploma.
Those students will take new tests starting with the 2014-15 school year linked to the state's revamped curriculum.
All the test changes stem from the state's adoption last year of a new curriculum called "common core standards."
That switch is designed to focus teaching on core topics in math, English and other subjects and making sure that students master those skills before
moving to the next grade.
Fourth- and eighth-graders have been required to pass LEAP since 2000. About 100,000 students in both grades take the test annually.
Backers said the rule ended decades of social promotions and forced students to gain at least a basic knowledge of math and English skills before they were promoted.
Critics complained that it was unfair to link promotion in part to how students fare on one test.